Column: Patt Morrison asks: Carl Reiner on being 94 and living to see America’s first female president
One of the founding fathers of television comedy, Carl Reiner, creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” has become a 90210 Gutenberg, publishing memoirs and children’s books under his “Random Content” imprint, from an upstairs room in his Beverly Hills home. His latest is “Now I’m 94.”
You created and starred in influential TV shows, you did live performances like the one with Mel Brooks, “The 2,000-Year-Old Man,” and yet lately you’ve turned to writing books. Why?
It’s a trip with immortality! I bought a book that was written in 1781 and it still exists – it’s Benjamin Franklin’s “Fart Proudly.” I also wrote a book on farts and I said, look at that – it exists. When you put it down on paper, you exist forever. Of all media, this is the one I really like most, because it comes from your head, and the people read it -- and you don’t have to get on a stage.
I see actress Hedy Lamarr in your book here – once declared “the most beautiful woman in the world.”
She was sitting next to me on a panel show and I was talking to the host, and she reached into her pocketbook and took out a cigarette and I, being a gentleman, without looking at her, went like this [mimes a cigarette lighter] and I heard this voice say, Carl, vat are you going to do – light my lozenge? She’d taken out a lozenge, not a cigarette!
My wife and I drove her home one night and saw the greatest collection of art we’d ever seen – not only the great artists but the best examples of Van Gogh, Gaugin and Renoir.
You’ve lived in Beverly Hills for decades, and yet the people here never seem to stop surprising you.
I emceed a benefit event at Gregory Peck’s house once – the very richest people in town. At the end, there was a drawing for two Cadillacs. I pulled out a ticket and read the number -- and nobody stirred. I read it again – nobody. I pulled out a second one – another winner, two Cadillacs! Nobody stirred. They were too rich to come up and take a Cadillac! They would pick them up later, but they didn’t want to claim them then – they were embarrassed! That was an experience.
This is your fifth memoir, if I’m counting correctly, and it does have some differences from the others.
The first thing most of us do when picking up a new book is scan the laudatory blurbs your friends have written. You’re always looking for a quote from somebody famous. I have decided that in lieu of again pestering important people like Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal, Bill Maher, George Clooney, and asking Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama to write blurbs, I got a quote that I think is really good here:
“After four hours at the wheel of the Mississippi paddleboat, transporting folks to their homes, I am afforded no greater pleasure than retiring to my stateroom, turning on my RCA seven-inch television set and watching Carl Reiner on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’”
You gave it away!
Is there anything you wish you had done that you haven’t gotten around to?
No, I’ve done it. I wish I could hang around a little longer to see what goes on. This is another way to achieve longevity: Don’t think in terms of how many years, think in nanoseconds. If I live two more years, look at all the nanoseconds I have left.
You’ve been on Twitter for more than four years, and have almost 150,000 followers. What do you like about Twitter?
There’s always something you want to say to somebody, and when you’re alone at night, you say it to the world. There’s a man named Trump who needs dumping on every night, and so I do that.
You don’t stay up just to tweet about him?
Oh, I tweet other things too – recommendations, things I think other people would like to know about, things I’ve seen that I appreciate. It’s fun -- and of course when I tweet about Trump, there are always a couple of Trump lovers out there who find me to be stupid. They say, What about Hillary? I want to see our first woman president.
What will you be doing on election night, besides tweeting?
I’m going to be sitting here hoping to be able to cheer!
This interview has been condensed and edited. firstname.lastname@example.org
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